Friday, 8 April 2022

28 March 2022 White paper sets a target for all schools to be in strong MATs by 2030

The schools white paper, 'Opportunity for all: strong schools with great teachers for your child', sets a target for all schools to be in strong multi-academy trusts (MATs), or have plans to join or form one, by 2030

Other policies include

  • the DfE will expect most trusts to work towards serving at least 10 schools or 7500 pupils
  • the proportion of schools a trust can run in a particular area will be capped, though no cap will be imposed on trust size overall
  • a review in May will consider new intervention powers over academy trusts if they fail to meet new statutory standards for being strong MATs
  • clearer expectations for trusts over providing high-quality, inclusive education, school improvement, financial management, parental engagement and workforce deployment, training and retention
  • trusts facing new statutory duties to work collaboratively with other trusts, councils and public bodies, and follow the admission code
  • top-slicing faces new 'transparency measures'
  • in exceptional circumstances, good schools may be able to request moving trust
  • £86m over three years for trust capacity funding, with additional financial support for dioceses
  • a new CEO development scheme open to executive heads and senior trust staff
  • a consultation to move schools with two consecutive Ofsted judgements below good into strong trusts
  • a consultation proposes new powers to force 'coasting' maintained schools and academies (those with two consecutive Ofsted ratings below good) to convert or change trusts
  • regional schools commissioners to become regional directors
  • the DfE will consider bids for high-quality standalone free schools, but avoid converting schools as standalone academies
  • a £40m fund is promised for 24 priority areas among the 55 'education investment areas' to address particular needs, such as literacy, numeracy or absence.  These areas will also be targeted for establishing new academically-focused 16-19 free schools
  • legislation will protect faith schools' statutory freedoms and protections on conversion
  • a pledge to ensure that selective schools are secure in MATs
  • the government will discuss plans for all trusts to have local governance arrangements for their schools

Friday, 11 February 2022

4 February 2022 Government sets out plans for education in the 'Levelling up' white paper

As part of the 'Levelling up' white paper published this week, the government has pledged to ensure that 90% of pupils leave primary school by 2030 with the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics

Other plans include

- targeted support for schools in new education investment areas (EIAs) 

- encouraging schools to run new 16 to 19 free schools, with priority given to EIAs

- consultation on moving schools with 'successive' requires improvement ratings into multi-academy trusts (MATs)

- a new national academy, available online, to 'stretch' pupils

- schools publishing mandatory food statements

- providing £5m for a new cooking curriculum

- setting up a pilot project to inspect food standards

- funding a reformed National Citizen Service for the next three years

- a clear vision for schools being in strong MATs - a schools white paper is expected to address the issue of schools structures

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

12 January 2022 DfE to reform how local authorities' school improvement functions are funded

The Department for Education (DfE) has announced that it will implement the proposals for reforming how local authorities' school improvement functions are funded following a consultation late in 2021

The local authority school improvement monitoring and brokering grant, forecast to be around £42million in 2022-23 will be reduced by 50% for the financial year 2022-2023, prior to full removal in the following financial year

Local authorities will be allowed to deduct funding for their core school improvement activities from maintained school budgets to seek to cover the shortfall

During the consultation, local authorities feared that such 'top-slicing' could meet local opposition, but the DfE has said that it will 'reserve the right to permit de-delegation against the wishes of a school forum'


Friday, 17 December 2021

7 December 2021 Ofsted's annual report finds a 'disappointingly small' number of achievements for many pupils

Ofsted's annual report, published today, has found that 'nearly all children' were impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting disruption to education

It said that there were a 'disappointingly small' number of achievements for many pupils during the year, despite the tremendous efforts made by teachers, parents, pupils and social workers

It warns that the loss of education and routine had 'led to physical and mental health problems.  Loneliness, boredom and misery became endemic among the young' as children 'struggled with a hokey-cokey education: in the classroom, at home, separated in bubbles, isolating at home'

Ofsted will be using its inspections this term to look in greater depth at the patterns of absence since September

Friday, 8 October 2021

8 October 2021 Education secretary announces new white paper in education

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference this week, the education secretary committed to a new white paper in education in the new year

It seems it will include

- plans to tackle innumeracy and illiteracy

- a deep dive, by Ofsted, to look at good practice in tackling absenteeism 

- looking at ways to embed technology into the education process

- an intention for all schools to become part of a multi-academy trust

- a commitment to a review of teacher training 

Friday, 17 September 2021

17 September 2021 Ofsted to increase the number of academy trust evaluations

Ofsted will increase the number of academy trust evaluations, with smaller and specialist chains being eligible for visits

New guidance on the trust summary evaluations indicate that they will mirror the education framework and focus on 'the quality of education as seen through the curriculum'

It also says that smaller and specialist MATs, not just those that may be a cause for concern, will now get visits

Ofsted is planning 12 trust summary evaluations in the Spring term and will confirm future evaluations in due course; it visits a number of schools within the trust before discussing its findings with leaders and publishing a letter

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

20 July 2021 NGA publishes report on the development of MAT central leadership teams

The National Governance Association (NGA) has published a report on the development of central leadership teams in MATs

Based on detailed interviews with 13 MATs, and complemented by an online review of a further 88 MATs, it concluded that 

- central leadership teams are emerging as powerful drivers for realising many benefits of trust wide collaboration, including bringing services in-house, employing individuals with specialist expertise and centralising functions

- central team power and influence can contribute to tensions between individual school expression and trust control and therefore discussions about the central team should consider these tensions, seek to resolve them and include engagement with key stakeholders at local level

- governance practice in relation to designing and approving central team structures is inconsistent - there remains a lack of sector-wide knowledge and confidence around the issue of central teams which does provide an opportunity for trust boards to further drive improvement in their trusts